Thursday, December 25, 2008


As an aside to my last post, honestly, how many times/week do I need to refuse plastic bags.?

Almost every time I enter a store I feel completely on edge at the check out. Trying to juggle my purse, bags, coat, scarf and gloves while simultaneously trying to prevent the check out person from mindlessly tossing my purchases, no matter how small, into large plastic bags.

Certainly in this season of consumption, I may be finding myself in the midst of this more frequently than usual. Even in Macy's I'm yelling across the counter like a lunatic. I was there on Tuesday, picking up a last minute gift, and indulging in a pair of earrings (on super sale) for myself. At both counters the women looked at me like I was crazy as I stuffed the small boxes into the large bag I always carry as a purse. "I don't need a bag. Thank you. No really, I can fit it in here". Must I explain myself? My card cleared, the receipt has printed**, just give me my purchase!

Seriously, has no one heard that it is absolutely, unequivocally, completely uncool, outdated, irresponsible, not to mention almost always unnecessary to use plastic bags?

The movement does require forethought. You need to remember to bring your bags to the grocery store. J and I first made the serious committment to this when we were in France. There, at the grocery stores, you either brought your bags with or purchased reusable bags. There were no plastic options. These big bags with brightly colored produce on all sides were so great we brought them home and use them still today. And i will admit, it took awhile. How many times we would leave the house to go to the grocery store, only to pull in the parking lot and realize we had forgotten the bags. But eventually, with repeated efforts, it became routine.

It is a revolution in the way we think about our lives. There is not just a "slow food" movement, but a "slowed life" movement. A movement of being more conscious and thoughtful about all of your tasks. After the fast pace, greed and uber capitalism of our society in recent years, people are frazzled, tired and realizing that pace of life does not make you a better person. Being "busy" does not truly mean "important". And being oblivious to the world around you and your impact on it is pathetic.

Granted, I am no puritan within the green movement. I still indulge in Diet Pepsi in plastic bottles and am struggling with how to get recycling done in a Chicago neighborhood that doesn't offer Blue Cart programs and in a condo not large enough to hold onto large amounts of recycling to make the trip to one of the public park district recycling bins worthwhile. I'm taking my actions in baby steps. But I have goals. And hope.

**Walgreens is one of the biggest offenders of this. I can't buy a pack of gum without having to refuse (sometimes loudly) a big plastic bag. Their second offense, the foot long receipt that is printed out with every purchase, no matter how small. Cut back dammit! That means you too Borders! I don't need 3 receipts to buy a book!

1 comment:

Rosemarie said...

Matt and I got canvas bags for our wedding 5 yrs ago from a good friend. Ever since then, we've used them for grocery shopping so we are "in the habit." Last x-mas I gave them away to all my family for presents. I cannot tell you how irksome it is to have someone bag up 1 item at Target. At Whole Foods they get it, everywhere else I have to say, "I have a bag. No really it will all fit. No I don't need extra bags..." AHHHHH!